REVIEWS 2022 – MARCH
Mighty Music on March 11 – CD, LP
This is melodic viking/death metallers VANIR’s 6th full-length album, and the main theme is Nordic mythology, even though there’s other subjects too in a couple of songs.
12 tracks is what they gives us here, and most of the songs are good, so I don’t have anything to complain about.
The music includes both hard and melodic guitars, as well as mainly harsh vocals.
I don’t really know what else there is to say..
UPRISING! Records on March 11 – CD, LP, Digital
Talk about progressive adventure! So if that’s what you’re looking for, then this is the ride for you. It’s not such a bad ride, even though it includes many different elements. It can be soft, aggressive or just about anything in-between that. This is definitely a forward-thinking band with an open mind for just about anything.
The title track is divided in 5 parts, which they begin with. And after that we get 3 more songs. It’s said to fit perfect for fans of stuff like TOOL, LEPROUS and PAIN OF SALVATION.
ODDLAND was founded in Turku, Finland in 2003. After a bunch of demos, they were signed to Century Media for their debut album, which was released in 2012. Their next album was released by Sensory Records in 2016, but it’s not until now that we get their third album, “Vermilion”, on yet another label (UPRISING!).
DEAD LORD: Dystopia
Century Media on March 11 – 12″ EP, Digital
It wasn’t exactly yesterday that I heard something with DEAD LORD last time, but here’s a new 6-track EP anyway. And what we get here is a mixture of left-overs from the sessions for their latest full-length, “Surrender” (2020), and covers of D-A-D, WINTERHAWK, Rory Gallagher and Moon Martin.
Even though 4 out of 6 tracks are covers, it all sounds just like DEAD LORD. This is timeless hard rock done with passion. Fans of 70s hard rock like THIN LIZZY and other stuff from the same era should absolutely check this out.
DEAD LORD comes from Sweden, and has released 4 albums between 2013-2020.
D’OR: Veni Vidi Ignis
Metalapolis Records on March 11 – CD, LP
D’OR is the brainchild of Swizz vocalist/guitarist Andy Dormann (KISSIN’ BLACK, CHARING CROSS). And on this album he try to live out his dreams about Sunset Strip in the 80s. It’s hard rock and street metal with both dirt and glitter. But it might not sound exactly like it did on Sunset Strip. Because as I said earlier, the band is from Switzerland, and then we also have the fact that it’s 2022 and not 1985.
It’s a good try though, and the songs on this album are really good. Just listen to something like “Future, Baby!” or “Dancing” for example.
Fans of Swedish bands like CRAZY LIXX, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR and maybe even BACKYARD BABIES should give this a chance.
FLAMES OF FIRE: Flames Of Fire
Melodic Passion Records on March 18 – CD
FLAMES OF FIRE is a heavy metal band from Sweden, Norway and Finland formed by Christian Liljegren (NARNIA, The WAYMAKER, AUDIOVISION) and Mats-Åke Andersson (ZARAGORN), together with Jani Stefanovic (The WAYMAKER, SOLUTION .45, MISERATION), Per Schelander (HOUSE OF SHAKIRA, ASTRAKHAN, ex-ROYAL HUNT, PAIN OF SALVATION) and Stephen Carlson (BROTTHOGG, Peter Carlsohn’s The RISE, TALES, VIVA). The band is pretty new, so there’s not that much to tell about them yet. But the music that they gives us here is of the highest quality. This is absolutely something for fans of traditional heavy metal. This must definitely not be missed!
But something that might end the enthusiasm for some die hard metal fans is that they don’t exactly hide their love for Jesus in some of the songs here. That is hardly something new when it comes to some of these guys though.
It will be very interesting to see (or hear) if they can manage to make another album that is just as great as this album. Because I really hope that this is not just a one-off project.
RIZON: Prime Time
Pure Steel Records on March 11 – CD
It’s 6 years since this Swizz band released their last album, “Power Plant”. But now they are back with a new album, which is filled with positive energy and a good mood. We get both male and female vocals, often at the same time. And their record label put them in the melodic power rock genre. I think it’s more like modern hard rock/metal though, but melodic it is.
We get 12 tracks on this album, but most of them are not so bad, so why complain? You should give them a try.
POWERGAME: Slaying Gods
Iron Shield Records/Self-released on March 18 – CD, Cassette, LP
POWERGAME released their first demo in 2013, and their first album 2 years later. A few more records has been released since then.
The new album, “Slaying Gods”, gives us mainly good old heavy metal. But sometimes there’s also elements of thrash, power and doom metal. And the last track, “The Chalice”, is almost 12 minutes and more epic. So it’s not such a wild guess that they are influenced by many different kinds of metal bands.
Are they any good then you might ask then? Yes, I would say that this is a really good album. You should absolutely give it a try.
BLACKSLASH: No Steel No Future
Iron Shield Records on March 11 – CD, Digital (LP later)
BLACKSLASH is an old school heavy metal band from Germany, founded in 2007. They serves galloping bass and twin-guitars, and top that with melodic vocals. Their songs are powerful and good. In other words something that you should check out as soon as possible.
BLACKSLASH has released a few records since 2011. It’s 4 years since their last album was released.
TWIN PIGS: Godspeed, Little Shit-Eater
Luftslott Records/Spastic Fantastic Records – Digital (LP soon)
TWIN PIGS is a Swedish punk band with something to say. And they shout it out loud with short punk attacks that are full of attitude. They seems to be more political than ever before on their third album. Or political? They simply gives us their view of today’s society. Data kids, America and people like the Kardashians and Elon Musk get the chance to taste their boots.
It’s as a matter of fact as much as 4 years since their last album, “Scandinavian Nightmare”, was released. They still have their own little sound, sometimes with keyboards as an extra spice. But on this record the singer is actually singing instead of just screaming, like he did before. And even though it’s built on anger, most songs are actually catchy, and the choruses are sing-along friendly with cheerleader choirs.
The LINDA LINDAS: Talking To Myself
Epitaph Records – Digital single
Yet another single from American pop punks The LINDA LINDAS. Extremely catchy and melodic this time, but really good. This song sounds like it’s made for all the kids out there, and when they hear it they will love it. Hopefully they get better taste in music as well (unless they already are rockers then).
Their debut album, “Growing Up”, will be released on April 8. I look forward to hear that.
BLAZEMTH: The Return Of Lucifer
Xtreem Music on March 15 – CD, LP, Cassette, Digital
BLAZEMTH was born in Barcelona in 1993 from the ashes of ROTTEN FLESH. They went from death metal to black metal, and released a demo and 2 MCDs before they split up in 1997.
20 years later they were back again, and since then they have re-released their old recordings, but no new stuff until now – After 25 years they release their first full-length album, “The Return Of Lucifer”.
Their sound is influenced by the Nordic black metal scene, and bands such as NECROPHOBIC, DISSECTION, WATAIN, EMPEROR and MAYHEM. So if you like that then it’s not so hard to figure out that you need to hear this. They simply crush! Just like a true black metal band should do.
But there’s also room for guitar melodies, and they also varies the tempo now and then. That makes them more interesting to me anyway.
CHRONOMANCY: Shadows In Atlantis
Fighter Records on March 8 – CD, LP, Cassette, Digital
CHRONOMANCY was founded in 2010 in Thessaloniki, Greece. They have so far released 1 demo, 1 self-financed full-length album and an EP. They have now signed with Fighter Records, and are ready to release this new album, “Shadows In Atlantis”.
The band’s music is a blend of heavy, epic and power metal, spiced with some symphonic, folk and extreme elements. So as you can understand this is not the usual heavy metal band, but something special with extra everything. Pretty o.k. though.
This is something for those of you who want more epic stuff.
ZADRA: Guiding Star
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, LP, Digital
ZADRA is a continuation of Frontiers Music’s relationship with L.A.-based guitarist/vocalist August Zadra, who the label has worked with as a member of WAITING FOR MONDAY and Dennis DeYoung’s band. The album was produced by the label’s own right-hand man Alessandro Del Vecchio (who added multiple instrumental and songwriting contributions as well), and among the musicians are people like Jeff Scott Soto (background vocals), Dennis DeYoung (keyboard solo), Jelly Cardarelli (drums), Jimmy Leahey (acoustic guitars), Andrea Seveso (rhythm guitars) and Martin Jepsen Andersen (rhythm guitars). Guillermo De Medio, Pete Alpenborg, and Jan Åkesson all contributed to the songwriting and additional keyboards.
If it’s melodic hard rock that you’re looking for, then I can really recomend you to give this a try. Because this is just as good as anything else in this genre. They have the right songs and know how to perform them. And what more can I say about their sound then? It sounds like it’s much 80s, but sometimes it’s modern too (not too modern though).
TEN: Here Be Monsters
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, 2LP, Digital
British melodic hard rock veterans TEN used the pandemic to produce not just 1 but 2 albums. And the first of these 2 is “Here Be Monsters”. These albums have no ties between each other, so this is not Part 1 and the next Part 2 or anything like that. They were just recorded at the same time, just like their 2 first albums (which were recorded one after the other in a very short period of time).
10 tracks in just under an hour is what we get here. And this is a strong and well-crafted album that all fans of melodic hard rock should like. But after 26 years and 14 studio albums you should know how it’s supposed to be done. And this band really know how it’s supposed to be done.
SPIRITS OF FIRE: Embrace The Unknown
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, 2LP, Digital
This is classic heavy metal in the same style as legends like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and DIO. And how could that be wrong? Of course it’s not wrong!
This is the second album from SPIRITS OF FIRE, where original members Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA), Steve DiGiorgio (TESTAMENT, DEATH etc), and Mark Zonder (ex-FATES WARNING, WARLORD) are joined by new singer Fabio Lione (ANGRA, RHAPSODY). In other words what they call a supergroup.
Well, I have already told you what they sounds like in the beginning of this little review, so I don’t think that I have to go any deeper into that, as you should all know what classic heavy metal sounds like. And then you also know if you like it or not. And with that lineup this is all done very preofessional. I like this album a lot, so I recomend you to give them a try.
MECCA: 20 Years
Frontiers Music Srl – 3CD, Digital
35 songs on 3 CDs! That is way too much at once from a band that I have never heard before. Luckily much of it sounds good, however. And sure, you don’t have to listen to all at once if you don’t want to.
Anyway, this is a best of collection, celebrating the band’s 20-year anniversary. And the music that they play is typical melodic rock/AOR, so it’s pretty catchy and soft stuff that we get here. Fans of this genre should absolutely check this out.
The different members of the band have also worked with artists like TOTO, Mr MISTER, Peter Gabriel and PRIDE OF LIONS among others.
MANIC SINNERS: King Of The Badlands
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, Digital
MANIC SINNERS comes from Romania, and this is their debut album. The band brought in the over productive Alessandro Del Vecchio (HARDLINE, REVOLUTION SAINTS, JORN, etc etc) to mix the album in order to give it the cracking sound they envisioned.
This is not the first musical experience for this trio, as some of them have been or still are members of bands like CARGO and ANTON. And the singer gained major exposure in 2016 by winning the Eurovision Song Contest National Selection. So we have professionals here more or less.
And I can hear that they have been around for a while already, because this is a very powerful melodic hard rock album for being a debut. I can only wish them good luck, even though there’s millions of similar acts around the world. So if they will succeed or not remains to be seen. You should absolutely give them a try though.
WINGS OF DESTINY: Rise Above Them All
WormholeDeath Records – Digital single
Recently WINGS OF DESTINY was joined by guitarist David Shankle, who is most famous for playing with MANOWAR from 1989-1995. “Rise Above Them All” is the first single with the new line-up of the band, which comes from Costa Rica. They formed in 2013, and the music that they play is power metal.
This is a good song, but honestly nothing special. I have heard the exact same thing many times before. You should give it a try though.
The LOYAL CHEATERS: Long Run… All Dead!
Dead Beat Records – LP, CD, Digital
I really liked their kick ass single “No Saturday Nites”. So do they live up to my expectations in the full-length format too? Well, they still kicks ass with their energetic hard rock, and this is absolutely not bad at all. And I give them some extra credit for doing a cover of CHEAP TRICK’s “Surrender”, which is 1 of my only 2 favorites with that band. They are by the way also doing a cover of SLADE’s “Lock Up Your Daughters”.
The LOYAL CHEATERS fill up the tank with a high energy mixture of hard rock, early glam rock and pop punk from the late 70s. It’s like a party with AC/DC, Lita Ford, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, GIRLSCHOOL, The DONNAS and The RUNAWAYS. And everybody just want to rock and have a good time together.
INIQUITY: Grime (re-issue)
Emanzipation Productions – LP
Danish technical death metallers INIQUITY’s career was short and intense. They released their debut album, “Serenadium”, in 1996. 3 years later “Five Across The Eyes” was released, and then this third and final album, “Grime”, in 2001.
If you love it extreme without any lovely melodies, then INIQUITY might be something for you. It’s brutal and intense, as well as fast and technical. On top of that the singer sounds like a monster. As I said, this is extreme.
The band disbanded 2 years later, but has returned a couple of times since then, only to play a few shows and then fall asleep again.
The FLOWER KINGS: By Royal Decree
InsideOut Music – 2CD, 3LP/2CD Box Set, Digital
Swedish prog rock veterans The FLOWER KINGS return with a new album, which consist of as much as 18 tracks and last for over 1 and a half hour. So yes, they have been very creative during the pandemic.
This is a true retro/vintage affair, as the album was recorded in a fully analog studio. But also because some of the material was written before the recording of their first album in 1994. It’s melodic and sounds like an old prog rock album from the 70s, where they also blend in some folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues and funk. This is not one of those complicated albums, even though you won’t find any hit songs either. But fans of progressive rock should be happy when they hear this.
LIONVILLE: So Close To Heaven
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, LP, Digital
This is not an album for those who are angry, but rather for those who happens to have an extremely good day with sunshine and all. Well, you should feel good anyway, because this is melodic rock/AOR and not some energetic death or black metal.
This is the fifth studio album from LIONVILLE, and it sounds just like it’s supposed to sound when it comes to this genre. No, there’s no surprises here, but on a good day it sure ain’t bad. Fans of the band should not be dissapointed when they hear this album.
GIRISH & The CHRONICLES: Hail To The Heroes
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, LP, Digital
This is an Indian hard rock band. They are not here to give you something new and modern though, but rather good old hard rock n roll, inspired by everything from L.A. to London in the 80s. Simply what they grew up with. They want to create great anthems and have fun.
“Hail To The Heroes” is their third album, and this is absolutely not bad at all. There’s lots of great songs among these 12 tracks. It’s catchy and melodic, and it’s rocking like nothing has happened since the 80s. But just to make sure that you’re not too safe, they can suddenly throw in something different from the rest. That doesn’t happen too often though.
degreed: Are You Ready
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, Digital
This was fun! I thought that this band played some kind of modern metal/rock that I don’t really like. But instead they surprise me with the best kind of melodic hard rock, with choruses that are made to sing along to. This is just as great as a band like ECLIPSE for example. I’m impressed!
“Are You Ready” is the 6th album from this Swedish band, and you should really check it out.
CITY OF LIGHTS: Before The Sun Sets
Frontiers Music Srl – CD, Digital
CITY OF LIGHTS is a new melodic hard rock collaboration between British newcomer songwriter/guitarist Neil Austin and Greek vocalist Manos Fatsis (ODYSSEY DESPERADO, HIDEAWAY). They are joined by degreed members/brothers Robin (bass) and Mats (drums) Eriksson, as well as some other people playing guitar solos, keyboard, piano etc.
Their songs are inspired by the classic hard rock sound of the 80s and the new wave of current AOR bands. And they deliver these songs with lots of passion. There’s often a keyboard lurking in the background, and this will really take you back to the 80s. The songs are just as strong as anything that came out back then.
Alan Parsons: One Note Symphony – Live in Tel Aviv
Frontiers Music Srl – 2CD/DVD, Blu-ray, 3LP, Digital
I recognize many of these songs, so it was obviously not so long ago that I heard them last time. Those songs are very good though. This is hardly the most energetic band, but more soft and melodic. Sometimes it’s very cinematic, and then it sounds more like an instrumental soundtrack to an adventure movie. Not really sure if I like that combination though.
Now I’m not really sure how many live recordings this man has released already, but on this recording Alan and his band perform with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. And that might explain these cinematic pieces.
This is something for fans of melodic and classic rock. Pretty adult rock.
GOD DETHRONED: The Christhunt (re-issue)
Vic Records – LP, (CD soon)
Dutch death metal band GOD DETHRONED formed in 1991, and released their first demo the same year. The debut album, “The Christhunt”, was released in 1992. After that it seems like they split up, but returned a few years later with a new line-up. And they have released lots of albums through the years.
The debut album have now been re-released on LP, and will be available on CD soon. What we have here is death metal as it used to sound back in the early 90s, with too much reverb on the vocals. I wasn’t so impressed the first times I heard this, but I guess it’s not so bad after all. It sounds like they were good at what they were doing here. So fans of that early stuff should check this out.
MIDNIGHT BULLET: Hostile Resistance
Inverse Records on March 4 – Digital
MIDNIGHT BULLET is a Finnish heavy/thrash metal band, even though they also blend in other styles of rock and metal. “Hostile Resistance” is their 4th album, and the main themes are rebellion, revolution, and ruthlessness in the use of power.
This is another hard and heavy album, but they are not afraid to add a more catchy and melodic chorus, and it’s hardly slow because it’s heavy. I would also say that it’s a modern kind of heavy/thrash metal that we get here. So people who are into modern metal will probably like this more than the ordinary thrash fan.
SMASH YOUR ENEMIES: Genocide
Upstate Records on March 4 – LP, CD, Digital
SMASH YOUR ENEMIES is another hardcore band who play in the heavier league and blend in metal. What’s the thing with that? Seems to be many bands who like to play heavy nowadays, and I don’t really get that. I want action.
However.. The first track is really heavy and boring, but after that it’s more interesting and not so damn heavy. But the 4th track was pretty useless. They might not be the most exiting band on the planet, but they are hardly the most boring either. I guess they are what we could call a middle band.
SMASH YOUR ENEMIES comes from Detroit, and they deliver their heavy hardcore with anger. They formed in 2008, and have released several EPs through the years. “Genocide” gives us 7 tracks in approximately 20 minutes.
THUNDER RISING: Back To The Time Of Rock
Music For The Masses Records on March 4 (March 31 in Japan) – CD
Heavy metal band THUNDER RISING was formed in 2012 by Italian guitarist Frank Caruso (FIREHOUSE, ARACHNES, VIVALDI METAL PROJECT) and drummer Corrado “Nail” Ciceri. While the first albums was more American, they decided to do something else. 2 EPs was released in 2021, which represented different eras. The first one was in the 80s/90s style, while the second was more in 70s style.
Those EPs was just released digitally though, so now we get them in physical format as well. Some songs appear in different/extended versions, and there’s even an exclusive new track, “Stairs To The Top”, which is not released digitally.
Well, I would describe this as a melodic kind of heavy metal, but it’s rocking. Yes, there’s almost a touch of rock n roll, which gives the songs some extra energy. And the sound is old school, because as I already have said they’re in the 70s/80s/90s style. So if that sounds interesting to you, then you should give this CD a try.
TWISTED TOWER DIRE: Crest Of The Martyrs Demos
Nameless Grave Records on March 4 – LP, CD
“Crest Of The Martyrs Demos” is an alternate/demo version of TWISTED TOWER DIRE’s third album, making the recordings available for the first time. It was recorded in 2002, and the CD version features bonus tracks not included on the vinyl, including a second demo as well as a live track from Wacken 2003.
What we get here is “Crest Of The Martyrs” the way the band originally intended it: as a devastating, lean set of heavy metal bangers untouched by modern power metal production, and alternate studio decisions. This is a true heavy metal recording in the good old tradition, and it’s excellent! You must have this!
Now I have not heard the original album, so I can’t compare this with that album.
VARNAGEL: Som Tiden Ger Rätt
Beat Butchers – Digital single
VARNAGEL came from the Swedish punk wave in the 90s, and was as most active from the early 2000s to 2008. They released 3 albums, 2 EPs, 2 compilations and several singles. There have been short reunions during the years, but now they are back for real, and new songs have been written and recorded.
A first taste of the new material is this single, “Som Tiden Ger Rätt”. And this actually sounds just like no time has passed at all. Simply good old trallpunk like in the 90s. Fans of that will love this.
More singles will be released during the year, and then they will release an album in the second half of 2022. If the rest of the songs are this good, then I really look forward to hear some more.